By Olivia Kumwenda
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s militant AMCU union refused to sign a “peace deal” with platinum company Lonmin on Thursday, undermining government-backed efforts to open pay talks and end a four-week strike scarred by deadly violence.
Though Lonmin, the world’s number three platinum producer, signed the accord with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the early hours, representatives of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) declined to put their name to the agreement.
“We didn’t sign,” AMCU National Treasurer Jimmy Gamma told Reuters.
He declined to give further details, and AMCU-affiliated miners at the Marikana platinum mine where police shot dead 34 striking rock-drill operators last month were unwilling to talk.
On Wednesday, more than 3,000 striking miners marched through streets near the mine, 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, in the largest protest since the August 16 shooting, South Africa’s bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.
There was no violence, though some of the stick-waving demonstrators threatened to burn the mine to the ground and kill its management if their demands for better pay and working conditions were not met.
Lonmin shares, which had lost 25 percent of their value since August 16, jumped around 5 percent in early trade in Johannesburg and London amid hopes that the “peace deal” would open up a path to a settlement, despite AMCU’s holding out.
Separately, Lonmin said it was open to talks with AMCU on their demands for a hike in base pay to 12,500 rand a month – more than double what they are currently paid, a hike analysts say the company can ill afford. Read more…